Rivers on the Decline as Cooler Weather Arrives

By Beacon Staff

Cooler weather will have rivers across the Flathead Valley and western Montana on the decline this week, according to the National Weather Service in Missoula.

Starting Wednesday a cool front will arrive that will slow snow melt in the mountains, and at some points even add to it, according to meteorologist Bob Nester. With the cooler weather area rivers will stay at current levels or decrease.

“We’re not expecting any rises because of the cooler weather,” Nester said.

As of Monday morning, only the Stillwater River at Lawrence Park in Kalispell was above flood stage, hovering at 7.7 feet. It was expected to fall below the 7.5 foot flood stage by Wednesday. Meanwhile the Whitefish River was on the decline, just below its 8.5-foot flood stage. Both rivers were still under a river specific flood warning.

While the water was falling early this week its effect was still being felt in some places across the Flathead Valley.

Jim Flint, research assistant in the Spotted Bear Ranger District of the Flathead National Forest, said the South Fork of the Flathead River was at the highest in its recorded history last week. Flint said the river usually hovers around 10 feet, but it had hit 14 feet by midweek. Although no roads had been impacted, Flint said that trail crews were unable to get into the field to work because of high running creeks that were impassable.

On the other end of the valley, Polson was without rail service for a third week because of high water on Montana Rail Link’s line from Dixon. According to spokeswoman Lynda Frost, a culvert had been washed out a mile north of Moiese, forcing the railroad to temporarily shut down the line. Frost said that contractors were assessing the problem but it was unknown when service might resume.